Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day January 4, 2014

Australia's excellence shared and sustained

The sustained excellence of Australia's bowling attack - never bettered according to a past great, Glenn McGrath, has brought deep satisfaction to their mentor Craig McDermott
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Pressed a few days ago to recall the moment when Australia's bowlers delivered their finest spell for this Ashes series, their mentor Craig McDermott was momentarily short of an answer. After a pause, he remarked that it was actually easier to think of the odd occasions on which they had dipped below that level, such was the sustained excellence provided by Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon.

Watching from his familiar perch at the boundary's edge on day two of the final Test in Sydney, McDermott would only have added a few minutes at most to his aggregate of shifts for the series.

For most of England's innings, including a brief but close to terrifying six overs on the first evening, the standard maintained by the bowlers was unimpeachably lofty. Against batsmen well and truly broken by their weight of failure and now longing for home, it quickly became an embarrassingly lopsided spectacle.

At the moment of Ian Bell's dismissal by Siddle the SCG scoreboard read 5 for 23. What it might have quantified, had Shane Watson held a garden-variety slips catch from Bell's first ball from Harris, can only be imagined.

Either way, McDermott had further reason to be proud of his men's efforts, even more so for the fact they have kept charging in with remarkable hunger and energy despite going unchanged throughout the series. Whatever aches and pains harboured by Harris they were unnoticeable. The only wounds on display were psychological, and exclusive to the England batsmen.

No more was this evident than in the exit of Cook, who will leave these shores as perhaps the most harried captain since the West Indian Jimmy Adams limped home in possession of an 0-5 Frank Worrell Trophy series ledger in 2000-01, and was soon relieved not only of the captaincy but also his place in the team.

Cook scrapped heartily to reach stumps on day one in a period of dull light at the ground and roaring speed from Johnson, but on the second morning lost his equilibrium more swiftly than a jetlagged Englishman catching a cab straight from Sydney airport to the SCG.

Harris' precision against Cook has been a wonder to behold through both series, playing tricks of perception and balance that have made some straight balls appear to move, while other deliveries curling in the air or seaming off the pitch have met the England leader's bat at an angle of the bowler's choosing.

Sometimes the battles have been protracted, but this time it took only two balls. The first was defended stoutly, but the second swung fractionally back from a line Cook was inclined to leave and struck him palpably in front. The moment Cook was pinned, he looked around in a moment of panic, realising too late where his pad and stumps had been. Among Australia's slips cordon there was no surprise, only jubilation.

Ian Bell's promotion to No. 3 had been called for by many throughout the series, but was delayed by an England hierarchy reluctant to move him from the middle order post from which he had warded off so many Australian attacks in the northern summer.

His supremacy in the earlier series was unquestioned, but on faster pitches Bell has had less time to use his cultured hands to make late adjustments to high quality pace bowling. The cumulative result has been edges of the kind he offered up first ball on day two, bat straight but feet on the crease.

"One of the main goals for us was to cut Ian Bell out and I think we've done that beautifully," Harris said. "It's been good. You don't get many opportunities at all to play 10 Tests against the same players. The main thing has been to execute and we've done that, we started it in England and topped it off here.

"We know we've bowled well to them: there's no coincidence they haven't made runs - it's because of how we've bowled. It's just the pressure we've put on the whole series that has not allowed them to play their own games and play the way they want to."

A first-ball reprieve for Bell in England would have caused much gnashing of teeth, but in Sydney when Shane Watson put down a simple opportunity the Australians simply continued to pursue the lines and lengths that would suffocate their quarry. Watson was on hand to claim a catch for Harris when Kevin Pietersen edged an uncertain push forward, before Bell replayed his first ball with a thinner edge from Siddle that Brad Haddin held neatly.

The crowd were rapturous, the Australian players beaming broad smiles. Among those watching was Glenn McGrath, who had generously labelled Australia's bowling in this series the best he had ever seen. But little triumphalism emanated from Harris or the other bowlers, their modest commitment to the trade being as much a key to their success as the speed and accuracy of their bowling and the unity of their purpose.

"Glenn's come out and said those nice words but we don't see it that way, we've got to go out and do our job and do it to the best of our ability," Harris said. "At the moment it's working, and hopefully we'll be able to maintain that for another two years ... I'm getting old so we'll wait and see but we want to make sure we keep putting pressure on whoever we're playing. If we do that, teams won't make many runs."

The respect Harris speaks of now extends well beyond the small group who assembled at McDermott's Brisbane home for a fast bowlers' barbeque before the series began. Much as McDermott had done, there is barely a soul who has witnessed these Tests who would easily be able to choose a moment of brilliance from Australia's bowling attack to outshine the rest of their work in the Ashes summer of 2013-14. That's because, to borrow a phrase beloved of Harris, "It's all good."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • HatsforBats on January 5, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    @Protears, small correction, the attack that was "smashed" at the WACA was led by John Hastings (Siddle didn't play). At the time (considering form and 1st class records) it was considered by most Aus fans to be, at best, a third string attack.

  • HatsforBats on January 5, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    @BlightyTragic, it's funny how things go in cycles, perhaps now more people might see the 10/11 Ashes in a new light. Then, a poorly selected and out of form team was embarrassed by a well organised and cohesive unit executing well-planned attacks.

    SA have clearly been #1 for years, but they are obviously now weaker without Kallis (a small window of hope for Aus). India have an excellent crop of talented young players, but they continually work their way up the rankings through home wins and lose away against the stronger teams. And they lost again. If you ask @Greatest_Game he will tell you that Aus haven't lost a series in SA for 20 yrs.

    In the end I'll agree with Mcgrath, this is one of the best performing Aus attacks I've seen in decades. But it will avail us nothing if our frail batting continues to fail.

  • VivGilchrist on January 5, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    A lot of opinion hinting that Australia have benefited from England being "off". Could it actually be that Australia's bowlers have been brilliant? This was a team with Cook, Trott (6 Tests), Bell, KP, and Prior. All these are world class performers. Maybe, just maybe, can we give credit where credit is due, and admit that Australia have a very good allround bowling attack? They have taken all 100 possible wickets available, how often does that happen?

  • on January 5, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    Once again I see talk of "friendly conditions" and "Australia won 5 nil..but" The English players had same use of these "friendly conditions". Australia has won 5 Nil in Ashes 3 times. Has England ever done that? It is a stretch to say that this is the best attack Australia has had. What they do have is consistency and the ability to maintain pressure. Granted the English batsmen have played some dire shots but it's the pressure the bowlers have exerted that has caused it. Australia's top 6 have not been very consistent which will be further exposed by the likes of Steyn and Phillander. South Africa will be a big challenge for Australia. Will the departure of Kallis even the contest somewhat?

  • chicko1983 on January 5, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Before this series started, people were putting the English bowlers on a pedestal with swann, Anderson, and broad the holy trinity and best bowling attack in England's history. The Unchangables bowling attack is the most deep and consistent in world cricket at the moment. Harris v philander, steyn v Johnson and morkel v siddle will be close but who will compete with Lyon? Who will be Sth Africa's fourth seamer? Tests are won and loss on the strength of the fourth seamer and spinner as it gives the frontline bowlers time to rest. The sth Africans cannot rely on their holy trinity to win the series against Australia because they will be overworked and tired by the second test. Aussies will win, 3-0, Graeme smiths hand is already tingling at the thought of Johnson steaming in!

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on January 5, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    Hope to see Harris play more Ashes ... 5-0 couldn't have happened to better, nicer, big-hearted guys than him and Siddle. @Jono Makim - point about centuries is fine, but you must understand that hardly in any session was the English bowling consistently putting the squeeze on Australian batsmen. They could only choke off runs once or twice. South African attack will be a different equation. Not that Aussies can't score runs in pressure situations, but please don't extrapolate on the basis of this series.

  • Protears on January 5, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    Australia in Australia are a tough proposition for any side to play, we were out played in Brisbane and Adelaide yet won comprehensively at Perth once we got the opportunity to seize initiative and apply pressure. We did what Allistair Cook eluded to in his post match, we were able to turn a series 360 degrees and smashed a Mitchell Johnson, Siddle, Watson, Starc, Lyon led attack into submission in a post tea session on day 3 where Hashim Amla played one of the most peculiar innings of his career smashing his way to 196, followed by ABDV reverse sweeping Lyon into hands on hips.

    The current Australian attack was the one that lost the crazy Newlands test 2 years ago where 24 wickets fell in a day then Australia toiled forever to try and get Smith and Amla out. For Australia there are questions also, can Watson and Harris stay fit? Can Johnson sustain form and can Lyon be effective away from Australia which he hasn't yet been in India and was dropped in England.

  • BlightyTragic on January 5, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    My concern for the Australian team is that they beat an English side that had run out of fuel, not one that was firing on all cylinders. Like c'mon, really? before this series if you were to line up player vs. player, majority would have been English for sure, based on pure results. (I'm not ignoring the obvious that Aust won playing better cricket)

    Now they will enter a series against the No. 1 South Africans. In South Africa. AFTER another one day/T20 Series and domestic competition period. South Africa cut their teeth on the No. 2 India before this. Who actually competed and drew blood on occasion with the Saffers. Australia beat a side that needed the beating, and lets be honest, its very English to have that Series of complete dismal performance, only to go all phoenix the next.

    Lets just put things into perspective before making claims of brilliance and best bowling attacks until they have tested themselves against the best at home. The Aust. batting needs work, Hadds aside.

  • devil_in_details on January 5, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    McGrath saying that this is the best bowling attack he has seen is true in some ways- he just needs to add "of which I have not been a part" :) I remember McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowich and Warne bowling in tandem in that 2004-05 tour of India when they finally won in India. Now that was some bowling attack, surely the best to have taken field in this century. For those who want to relieve that most complete bowling attack and its mastery over an awesome batting lineup, here is a link: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/64101.html Ofcourse this current Aussie attack is not bad at all and sets things up nicely vs SA.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on January 5, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    Greatest Game is priming himself up, for an off-colour Johnson, since mid-November when the Ashes momentum was building up. Thus far Mitchell didn't oblige him with an off-day. Guess winning the Ashes was slightly more important than winning the heart of Greatest Game. One of these days the search for a Johnson off-day will get some results. Keep at it old bean.

  • HatsforBats on January 5, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    @Protears, small correction, the attack that was "smashed" at the WACA was led by John Hastings (Siddle didn't play). At the time (considering form and 1st class records) it was considered by most Aus fans to be, at best, a third string attack.

  • HatsforBats on January 5, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    @BlightyTragic, it's funny how things go in cycles, perhaps now more people might see the 10/11 Ashes in a new light. Then, a poorly selected and out of form team was embarrassed by a well organised and cohesive unit executing well-planned attacks.

    SA have clearly been #1 for years, but they are obviously now weaker without Kallis (a small window of hope for Aus). India have an excellent crop of talented young players, but they continually work their way up the rankings through home wins and lose away against the stronger teams. And they lost again. If you ask @Greatest_Game he will tell you that Aus haven't lost a series in SA for 20 yrs.

    In the end I'll agree with Mcgrath, this is one of the best performing Aus attacks I've seen in decades. But it will avail us nothing if our frail batting continues to fail.

  • VivGilchrist on January 5, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    A lot of opinion hinting that Australia have benefited from England being "off". Could it actually be that Australia's bowlers have been brilliant? This was a team with Cook, Trott (6 Tests), Bell, KP, and Prior. All these are world class performers. Maybe, just maybe, can we give credit where credit is due, and admit that Australia have a very good allround bowling attack? They have taken all 100 possible wickets available, how often does that happen?

  • on January 5, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    Once again I see talk of "friendly conditions" and "Australia won 5 nil..but" The English players had same use of these "friendly conditions". Australia has won 5 Nil in Ashes 3 times. Has England ever done that? It is a stretch to say that this is the best attack Australia has had. What they do have is consistency and the ability to maintain pressure. Granted the English batsmen have played some dire shots but it's the pressure the bowlers have exerted that has caused it. Australia's top 6 have not been very consistent which will be further exposed by the likes of Steyn and Phillander. South Africa will be a big challenge for Australia. Will the departure of Kallis even the contest somewhat?

  • chicko1983 on January 5, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Before this series started, people were putting the English bowlers on a pedestal with swann, Anderson, and broad the holy trinity and best bowling attack in England's history. The Unchangables bowling attack is the most deep and consistent in world cricket at the moment. Harris v philander, steyn v Johnson and morkel v siddle will be close but who will compete with Lyon? Who will be Sth Africa's fourth seamer? Tests are won and loss on the strength of the fourth seamer and spinner as it gives the frontline bowlers time to rest. The sth Africans cannot rely on their holy trinity to win the series against Australia because they will be overworked and tired by the second test. Aussies will win, 3-0, Graeme smiths hand is already tingling at the thought of Johnson steaming in!

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on January 5, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    Hope to see Harris play more Ashes ... 5-0 couldn't have happened to better, nicer, big-hearted guys than him and Siddle. @Jono Makim - point about centuries is fine, but you must understand that hardly in any session was the English bowling consistently putting the squeeze on Australian batsmen. They could only choke off runs once or twice. South African attack will be a different equation. Not that Aussies can't score runs in pressure situations, but please don't extrapolate on the basis of this series.

  • Protears on January 5, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    Australia in Australia are a tough proposition for any side to play, we were out played in Brisbane and Adelaide yet won comprehensively at Perth once we got the opportunity to seize initiative and apply pressure. We did what Allistair Cook eluded to in his post match, we were able to turn a series 360 degrees and smashed a Mitchell Johnson, Siddle, Watson, Starc, Lyon led attack into submission in a post tea session on day 3 where Hashim Amla played one of the most peculiar innings of his career smashing his way to 196, followed by ABDV reverse sweeping Lyon into hands on hips.

    The current Australian attack was the one that lost the crazy Newlands test 2 years ago where 24 wickets fell in a day then Australia toiled forever to try and get Smith and Amla out. For Australia there are questions also, can Watson and Harris stay fit? Can Johnson sustain form and can Lyon be effective away from Australia which he hasn't yet been in India and was dropped in England.

  • BlightyTragic on January 5, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    My concern for the Australian team is that they beat an English side that had run out of fuel, not one that was firing on all cylinders. Like c'mon, really? before this series if you were to line up player vs. player, majority would have been English for sure, based on pure results. (I'm not ignoring the obvious that Aust won playing better cricket)

    Now they will enter a series against the No. 1 South Africans. In South Africa. AFTER another one day/T20 Series and domestic competition period. South Africa cut their teeth on the No. 2 India before this. Who actually competed and drew blood on occasion with the Saffers. Australia beat a side that needed the beating, and lets be honest, its very English to have that Series of complete dismal performance, only to go all phoenix the next.

    Lets just put things into perspective before making claims of brilliance and best bowling attacks until they have tested themselves against the best at home. The Aust. batting needs work, Hadds aside.

  • devil_in_details on January 5, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    McGrath saying that this is the best bowling attack he has seen is true in some ways- he just needs to add "of which I have not been a part" :) I remember McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowich and Warne bowling in tandem in that 2004-05 tour of India when they finally won in India. Now that was some bowling attack, surely the best to have taken field in this century. For those who want to relieve that most complete bowling attack and its mastery over an awesome batting lineup, here is a link: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/64101.html Ofcourse this current Aussie attack is not bad at all and sets things up nicely vs SA.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on January 5, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    Greatest Game is priming himself up, for an off-colour Johnson, since mid-November when the Ashes momentum was building up. Thus far Mitchell didn't oblige him with an off-day. Guess winning the Ashes was slightly more important than winning the heart of Greatest Game. One of these days the search for a Johnson off-day will get some results. Keep at it old bean.

  • Andross on January 5, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    I was convinced that Craig McDermott was a brilliant bowling coach after his coaching of the fast bowlers against India a couple of years ago. Now it should be obvious to everyone and anyone. McDermott simply seems to be the best bowling coach in the world at the moment. Everytime, they had plan against one of the English guys, it just seemed to work. Brilliant work by McDermott as well as all of the bowlers.

  • thectexperience on January 5, 2014, 5:23 GMT

    On the discussion developing here on the SA tour in February, it looks to me like Watson bats at #6 in Australia's best 11. He's a quality batsman who can't seem to cope with the pressure of #3. George Bailey is out for the foreseeable future. So who is the #3 for the SA tour? The position doesn't make the best use of Michael Clarke and Steve Smith's talents. Phil Hughes is a born opener and no-one in Australia could bear see him fail in the Test side again. Doolan is apparently the batsman in-waiting, but his 1st-class record doesn't inspire. And what ever happened to Callum Ferguson? This is the biggest and really the only question to answer before South Africa.

  • HatsforBats on January 5, 2014, 5:06 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, I imagine Pras_Punter forgot to include "since readmission" in his comment. You know, how SA haven't beaten Aus at home in 20 years? Obviously that little fact is irrelevant. And so are series results nearly 50yrs old. Maybe try a cold shower before you start calling everyone who makes mistakes "pathetic".

  • Shaggy076 on January 5, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    Greatest Game: We all make mistakes, I believe you wrote Johnson had again lost the plot in Melbourne and he has since taken 14 wickets for about 100 runs, some people struggle with history others with the present.

  • on January 4, 2014, 23:39 GMT

    under bowling friendly conditions , Australians seems to have better bowling line up but SA is far better prepared team right now in the upcoming series. England has been thorough down and out in this season of Ashes. They have succumbed to the pressure applied by this Aussie bowling line up. A drastic change in the performance of English team cannot easily make the path clear for Aussies in SA upcoming series. If this was somewhat an equally good competition in this Ashes series then one could have easily suggested that SA will have to re-check their strength before selecting their squad for upcoming series as in the previous encounter with Asian teams SA seemed to struggle against good spin attack

  • HatsforBats on January 4, 2014, 23:24 GMT

    @Mitty2, I gotcha, yep the balance has ben phenomenal. Even when one of the quicks is not quite getting it right the bloke up the other end has generally been able to pull it back. I know he's not your favourite (understatement!) but Watson is such an effective cog in the machine, I could watch his Carberry dismissal on repeat. If only he would bat at six.

  • postandrail on January 4, 2014, 21:46 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster on (January 4, 2014, 16:59 GMT) Keep in mind Johnson was the Player of the Series 4 years ago in SA and all would agree he's a much better bowler now. And there's no Kallis.

  • on January 4, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    A lot of criticism being laid upon our batting here but really I think that Bailey aside they all get pretty strong pass marks for this series. They have all gone on at one stage or another to score centuries, most of them important ones and that against one of the most experienced bowling attacks in the world. We've put a line under the career of the supposed best spinner in the world and made Anderson look pretty ordinary, only Broad has been able to put real dents into us and only when he has bowled his best, which can be pretty good stuff. Have any of our batsmen been super consistent? Perhaps not but for mine the most important part has always been going on with starts to make those three figure scores, something we've failed at the last 18 months up until the turnaround at the back end of the Ashes in old blighty. Since then Warner, Rogers, Watto, Clarke and Smith have all scored multiple hundreds and its this consistency of ton scoring that for mine outweighs anything else.

  • Greatest_Game on January 4, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    @ PrasPunter wrote "I wont be surprised if we sustain our record of not losing a test-series in SA." … except the 66/67 series which SA won 3-1, & the 69/70 tour when Australia were completely demolished - whitewashed 4-0.

    In the 69/70 whitewash, not ONE Aussie scored more than 83, & Ian Chappel, regarded as one of the finest bats in the world, averaged 11.5, yet four Saffas averaged over 50. Graeme Pollock averaged 73.85, & his best score of 274 was more than Aus managed in 6 of 8 inns. Barry Richards, in his debut series, averaged 72.57, his maiden ton of 140 scored at a strike rate of 85.36 and Mike Proctor took 26 wickets at 13.57, SR 33. SA's smallest margin of victory was 170, then 307 runs, then 323 runs & finally an innings & 129 runs. Little wonder Wisden termed it "the humiliation that rocked the cricketing world."

    Great record Aus has,"'not losing a test-series in SA." Keep up that confidence, PrasPunter, & learn something about cricket history when you can! Pathetic!

  • Greatest_Game on January 4, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    @ jmunro writes "Ever since I can remember, SAF has clamored to be the series favorite before playing Australia …"

    You must be very very young, or having a "senior moment." Either way, you are as off target as Swan's bowling was…. or Johnson's could be next week!

  • Protears on January 4, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    Its odd that people feel free to talk about South African cricket yet the glaring obviousness is that if the team was that beatable they wouldn't lose 9 tests in 7.5 years, Australia lost 8 tests this year alone.

    We have played against a lot of adversity and found truimph in periodic refreshing of the squad and cohesion of building stability, it was the very core feature that made the Australian side of old so great.

    We do have areas of concern, namely Duminy and his batting, our worst player of off spin and a player gifted in limited overs cricket yet so tentative in the extended format. As for our spinning options, Robbie P played a pivotal role in the win at the WACA last year with bat and ball, and did so in the last test against the Indians, I think he can be very under rated but yes apart from Ajmal and Herath maybe Ashwin and Jadeja nobody has match winning spinners.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 4, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    Australia could struggle in SA. Their batting is fragile except Clarke and Haddin. In the bowling department, Mitch Johnson will be neutralized thanks to the South African batsmen's better handling of pace and bounce that comes so naturally to them. However, it's the spin department where Australia have the edge albeit with Nathan Lyon. South Africans usually struggle against good spin bowling. While Lyon is far from lethal, he could trouble SA. I feel it will be a high scoring series with SA winning it in the end.

  • jmunro on January 4, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    This Australian bowling attack is a delight to watch. They make it look so easy. Good bowling is easy in theory but obviously is difficult to execute and speaks to the hard work and toiling attitude of our bowling unit. This combination of performance and attitude is perfect for our tour of South Africa because I would prefer Australia to be the toiling underdogs. Ever since I can remember, SAF has clamored to be the series favorite before playing Australia, but it only plays to the Australian advantage. It will once again keep our bowlers focused, the SAF team under pressure, and the Australian win all the more enjoyable.

  • on January 4, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    I think the Aussie attack is as good as any in the world when Mitch's in form. The worry is the batting; when the second half of the batting is making more runs than the top order there are some serious problems being papered over. We can't expect haddin to keep rescuing every innings. However massive the winning margin turns out to be Australia's batsmen have had an ordinary series. I'm not (quite) convinced by Rogers. Watson is no number 3 and it's unfair to expect him to perform there. Smith has been a very pleasant suprise but Bailey simply hasn't worked out. I think Aus need 2 new batsmen and we need them to perform if Aus are to have a serious shot at defeating SA at home. Watson at 6. And maybe Khwaja, Hughes or Marsh (or others) into the top3.

  • PrasPunter on January 4, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    No doubt SA is better placed. But I am confident about our team. Almost similar sentiments were expressed when we toured SA in 2009 after the series loss back home. But it happened to be Mitch's series and we ended up 2-1. So, I wont be surprised if we sustain our record of not losing a test-series in SA.

  • StaalBurgher on January 4, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    SA has the stronger fast bowling attack. Philander and Steyn are 1 and 2 in the world. There is no basis for arguing otherwise. In the spin department Oz definitely have the edge with Lyon. Batting wise SA have 3 ~50 batsmen (with Kallis gone) and Oz have 1. All other batters are good but not elite. It is logical to deduce that SA has the stronger batting lineup.

    This obviously does not translate into automatic victory and no Saffer would suggest it does but let us just be honest with the relative positions of the teams at this point in time. Things change, sure, but right now SA is stronger and better placed to win the series.

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    @hatsforbats, yep you did understand me - sorry about that I tend to ramble on - and your point about how the young quickies should play to their strengths is duly noted and probably correct. I may have went a bit overboard, but there's just something about this attack that's been so perfect - the balance, the cohesion and the unrelenting pressure - that i reckon it's like a formula that should be endlessly emulated. Maybe not the traits of specific bowlers - but the having a fast, scary opening bowler on one end, a really accurate seamer who can swing it at the other to share the new ball, and a third seamer who as dungerbob says, is the glue of the attack in that they should be versatile in their ability to attack, sustain pressure or bowl economically to keep things under control. And having a reliable spinner boosts that pace trio to the nth degree.

    @THE_MIZ, thanks, I watched Abott's 7 for live and was heaps impressed - has all the traits. Oh yes, forgot about that - sorry Robbie

  • Biggus on January 4, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    @PrasPunter:-Such is my great regard for the man, he and Hussey are the two cricketers from our team in recent times that I admire the most, both old school players and fine role models. They never complain, they just get on with the job at hand, and both obviously LOVE playing for OZ. We should be proud of them, they represent all that is good about Australian cricket and Australian society in general, they are both open and honest, hard but fair.

  • wolverine2050 on January 4, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    this australian attack is among their best.mitch's speed ,harris accuracy , siddle's workhorse attitude going with the guile of lyon will keep them in good stead.and also their fast bowling resources are too strong.but it considering their top order performance its hard to believe dat this team can reach the pinnacle of no 1 as all the time haddin will nit bail dem out and the opposition will find a way out through tail

  • kepler22b on January 4, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    AidanFX Agree with your assessment about the saffas but they have weak spinners and Kallis has just retired (increasing the workload on the others)

    Paul Mcallister a bit unfair to Stokes who, whilst I consider to be pretty risky, certainly has some stones and is not afraid. I think the poms are placing a lot of hope on the kid but he looks pretty willing.

    The fifth member of the musketeers is Watson who has bowled very well too. He keeps it very tight allowing the others to rest and takes important wickets. They must play him at six allowing one of the better shield players a go - Maddison, Doolan, Finch etc. Sorry George you missed the boat to SA.

  • pat_one_back on January 4, 2014, 12:12 GMT

    Great read, I really don't think it's broadly enough appreciated just how surgically accurate Aust's bowling attack has been this series. Yes Mitch is in a hot patch but this is BAU for Ryan Harris & Siddle has become a surprisingly patient & intelligent first change. No wonder Billy & McGrath are so proud.

  • PrasPunter on January 4, 2014, 11:50 GMT

    @Biggus, probably the best compliment i have ever heard of Rhino - ' Mike Hussey of bowling'.

    @Paul, Lets not get into hypothetical situations. SA couldn't beat Aus chasing 310 last time when we were 165/5 with only an out-of-form Haddin and tailenders to follow. The pitch was not a treacherous one as seen with Cape Town in "that" match. Stokes dug in and managed to hang around. No worries about that. However, I was not impressed when eng were allowed those 30 runs for the last wicket today. Mitch was back and cleaned it up in just 4 balls. So wondering why Pup took time to allow Broad to swing hard before bringing Mitch.

  • AidanFX on January 4, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    @Mitty2 "dreadful" is an overstatement - He had a 5er in at least one of the matches - he adjusted to the Australian pitches and bowled well eventually. And I am aware of De Lange and his impressive debut.

  • HatsforBats on January 4, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    @Mitty2, I think I see what you mean, but I must say though...our future pace stocks don't need to, nor should they try to emulate how our current lads operate. Yes, of course they need to hunt as a pack but each of them needs to become the best their natural ability allows them to be, irrspective of their modus operandi. If I've misunderstood your point, my apologies. In any case, Cummins (not Cummings) is IMO a more skillful bowler than Pattinson and is the more likely to play the Harris role of chief wicket surgeon, while Pattinson would play the enforcer (also his batting has enormous potential). I also think it's far too early to consign the Starc/Pattinson partnership to the fail pile. Starc may never achieve the required level of consistency, but who knows what they might achieve after another good 3-4 years of shield. I share your views on Bird, he's a very skilful bowler.

  • THE_MIZ on January 4, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    @Mitty2 and @AidenFX, must say that I agree with your assessment's of the Aus vs SA attacks...What people forget when they discuss the 'lack of depth' of SA's fast bowling stocks, is that the quicks are so fit that there's not many games where others are given a game. And when they get injured we've had big De Lange (our answer to MJ) and Abbott both grabbing 7-wicket hauls on debut. However, Consistency in selection is a big factor in the success of the side - as the Aussies are now finding out!

    The last thing Australia needs to do now tinker with their attack to 'prove their depth' or 'rotation' purposes. It doesn't work that way. It's not only about choosing the best bowlers, but the best combination as well and sticking with it.

    Also think that the two attacks are neck-and-neck with perhaps Steyn the difference. As for the spin dept, I'm sure many Saffers would take Lyon over Robbie P any day (but let's not forget Robbie outdoing Lyon in the last test in Perth ;)

  • ravi_hari on January 4, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Great players do not always turn out to be good coaches. Mcdermott is an exception. I think the best contribution by him to the Aus team is to instill confidence in every bowler that he can do it. It is amazing to see Harris playing 10 tests on the trot. The change of mindset worked wonders for him. Now he is not thinking of his body but his bowling. He is looking for excuses to play rather than sit out. He is confident and knows he can deliver. Another aspect of this trio was that they supplemented and complemented each other so well that at the end of the series, you would find each of them bowling almost the same number of overs. That helps a lot. If you can bowl consistantly well, the results come as planned and no one needs to stretch the length. Lyon has been a revelation and his tight line and wicket taking ability has also helped reduce the burden on the trio. I am sure if they maintain the same form, SA will find it very tough to tackle. Lyon will play a big part there too.

  • IndiaNumeroUno on January 4, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Do England still play test matches or have they had enough?!

  • Biggus on January 4, 2014, 10:50 GMT

    @Beertjie:- Yep, I'm a fully paid up member of the Ryan Harris fan club as well. Great team man, hard core trier in the field, handy bat, and a quick with an average to die for. The Mike Hussey of bowling.

  • dunger.bob on January 4, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    In another article an English poster said the top 3 or 4 wicket takers in county cricket were all over 30 years old. Then he said, 'so you can't pick them of course'. I thought to myself tell that the Rhino and Mitch. It's really a case of if you're still good enough you're still young enough I reckon.

    @ Mitty2 : Pretty good assessment. I think. I am pretty sure we will see Patto and Starc in the same lineup at some point though. Starc is Mitch and Patto is Harris if you can see what I mean. At the moment both understudies still have a thing or two to learn before they're a genuine match for the main actors. .. Sids is still only 28-29 so he could be around a while yet. I hope so, he's a beautiful 3rd seamer. Very skilful is our Pete and the glue that holds this attack together I reckon.

  • Beertjie on January 4, 2014, 10:27 GMT

    Rhino is such an honest bloke I can scarcely contain my admiration for him. Wishing him a great tour to S Africa and a successful op. Would really like him to make next year's Ashes, but hopefully back-ups will be fit and firing by then. Cummins, Pattinson and Bird look like a formidable trio on paper, but if Rhino is fit I'd pick him before anyone else in English conditions!

  • Clyde on January 4, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    They are bowling with much more precision. It is exhausting to watch a fast bowler expending so much energy landing it in the wrong place. Great to see them making plans and not letting up, not chasing wickets but letting them come if they will.

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    @AidenFX, people only question SA's pace depth because they're main 3 are so good and durable that people try to pick something to criticise them about. The debuts of De Lange and Abott show how much depth they have. Can't talk about their spin depth as don't know their back ups but yes R Peterson and Tahir are both bog average. Philander hasn't really bowled abroad that much - no fault of his own. He had a dreadful series here which was surprising but had a good series vs England and had a good series vs Pakistan if I'm not mistaken. His stats speak for themselves - he's a freak and any attack would have him as their number one or two.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 4, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    @Disco_bob: I agree! I also think that way sometimes! If i had not been watching, we may not have done as well etc.

  • Brownly on January 4, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    Perhaps the best thing for the state of Australian bowling at the moment is that the next generation has already been tried and tested, succeeded, been injured, had time away to reflect and strengthen physically and mentally, ready to step up when needed. To think that James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc are waiting in the wings is very encouraging. They may not have the control of their older counterparts yet, but they've got everything else you could wish for in a varied and dangerous attack.

    I wish I could say the same for the next generation of batsmen, but that cupboard is a little bare. Still, players like Hughes, Khawaja and Cowan have spent time at international level with varying degrees of success. Pressure for them would be much less intense stepping back into the fold. Either way, a good bowling attack is at least halfway to becoming a good cricket team.

  • on January 4, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    Australia weren't ruthless enough. they let England off the hook at 23-5. South Africa would have skittled the Poms out for about 49 from this position.

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    (cont) - Starc/Patto can't be in the same line up as both whilst having very good wicket taking abilities don't exactly bowl well in partnerships (completely evident with their series in Eng and Starc showed it in India and vs SA) and are more expensive than they are economical. Bird can perform either the Harris or Siddle role to aplomb - so too can Sayers, whilst Cummings and NCN really should be groomed for the MJ role with pace and aggression.

    For the future, when invariably Harris' body explodes and MJ runs out of steam and when maybe Siddle loses his potency, we really should replicate the pace balance of this series. Harris is the most vital, and the only two bowlers capable of bowling like him are Patto/Bird. Cummings/Starc should try to emulate MJ's series and Sayers I believe is Siddle's replacement (Bird otherwise). Once all these young quickies learn to bowl in partnerships - we'll be on to something. Bird does it for Tas and in tests, so thats why he should be next in.

  • PrasPunter on January 4, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    Good work done !! Just one more innings !! Go Aus !! 5-0 !!

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    Really well written and our bowling has kind of been ignored and much has been written about individual efforts (Haddin/MJ/Stokes) and of how bad Eng are instead. When England are labeled 'jaded'/'tired' it's a cop out - as Australia have and do play more tests - and rather their failures and the departures of two senior players are actually due to how well Australia have played. Jarrod Kimber wrote yesterday about how this is probably the worst batting line up ever to achieve a 5-0 result, but by the very fact that we will be the only team ever to take 100 wickets in a 5 match series would have to make our bowling has to be up there.

    The combination has been perfect - pace/physical threat of MJ; unrelenting line/length at good pace with swing of Harris; accuracy/durability/experience of Siddle; and the economical spin and bounce of Lyon. If we're looking to replicate the balance, the combinations of the back up must be thought of. Eg, Starc/Patto can't be in the same line up (cont..)

  • disco_bob on January 4, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Had Bell been caught everything would be different and Pietersen may not have been out on three and could have gone on to ruin the whitewash. As it was, that did not occur and Bell only added 2. I can't stand these mad 'what if' conjectures.

  • AidanFX on January 4, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    The performance against India couple years back was about as good as this performance; only in that series you had Pattinson injured and Lyon dropped for the Perth in favour of Starc - a sign of the depth that is around. The difference in this series is that it is the same foursome (including Watson) which is quite impressive.

    I think it is grossly premature to say Australia has the best attack (as compared to SA). Philanda now ranks as #1 - I don't think he is as good as Styne but the rank is deserved as he stats are quite remarkable. And those who say he has bad stats abroad are talking nonsense - he has had one or two bad games abroad but has actually bowled well all over the place. And Morkel has held his own for a while. So they are the best attack.

    I suppose there seems to be an awful lot more depth in Aus over SA, and Aus have a decent spinner in Lyon so they have that edge but for now the best attack in SA.

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  • AidanFX on January 4, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    The performance against India couple years back was about as good as this performance; only in that series you had Pattinson injured and Lyon dropped for the Perth in favour of Starc - a sign of the depth that is around. The difference in this series is that it is the same foursome (including Watson) which is quite impressive.

    I think it is grossly premature to say Australia has the best attack (as compared to SA). Philanda now ranks as #1 - I don't think he is as good as Styne but the rank is deserved as he stats are quite remarkable. And those who say he has bad stats abroad are talking nonsense - he has had one or two bad games abroad but has actually bowled well all over the place. And Morkel has held his own for a while. So they are the best attack.

    I suppose there seems to be an awful lot more depth in Aus over SA, and Aus have a decent spinner in Lyon so they have that edge but for now the best attack in SA.

  • disco_bob on January 4, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Had Bell been caught everything would be different and Pietersen may not have been out on three and could have gone on to ruin the whitewash. As it was, that did not occur and Bell only added 2. I can't stand these mad 'what if' conjectures.

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    Really well written and our bowling has kind of been ignored and much has been written about individual efforts (Haddin/MJ/Stokes) and of how bad Eng are instead. When England are labeled 'jaded'/'tired' it's a cop out - as Australia have and do play more tests - and rather their failures and the departures of two senior players are actually due to how well Australia have played. Jarrod Kimber wrote yesterday about how this is probably the worst batting line up ever to achieve a 5-0 result, but by the very fact that we will be the only team ever to take 100 wickets in a 5 match series would have to make our bowling has to be up there.

    The combination has been perfect - pace/physical threat of MJ; unrelenting line/length at good pace with swing of Harris; accuracy/durability/experience of Siddle; and the economical spin and bounce of Lyon. If we're looking to replicate the balance, the combinations of the back up must be thought of. Eg, Starc/Patto can't be in the same line up (cont..)

  • PrasPunter on January 4, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    Good work done !! Just one more innings !! Go Aus !! 5-0 !!

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    (cont) - Starc/Patto can't be in the same line up as both whilst having very good wicket taking abilities don't exactly bowl well in partnerships (completely evident with their series in Eng and Starc showed it in India and vs SA) and are more expensive than they are economical. Bird can perform either the Harris or Siddle role to aplomb - so too can Sayers, whilst Cummings and NCN really should be groomed for the MJ role with pace and aggression.

    For the future, when invariably Harris' body explodes and MJ runs out of steam and when maybe Siddle loses his potency, we really should replicate the pace balance of this series. Harris is the most vital, and the only two bowlers capable of bowling like him are Patto/Bird. Cummings/Starc should try to emulate MJ's series and Sayers I believe is Siddle's replacement (Bird otherwise). Once all these young quickies learn to bowl in partnerships - we'll be on to something. Bird does it for Tas and in tests, so thats why he should be next in.

  • on January 4, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    Australia weren't ruthless enough. they let England off the hook at 23-5. South Africa would have skittled the Poms out for about 49 from this position.

  • Brownly on January 4, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    Perhaps the best thing for the state of Australian bowling at the moment is that the next generation has already been tried and tested, succeeded, been injured, had time away to reflect and strengthen physically and mentally, ready to step up when needed. To think that James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc are waiting in the wings is very encouraging. They may not have the control of their older counterparts yet, but they've got everything else you could wish for in a varied and dangerous attack.

    I wish I could say the same for the next generation of batsmen, but that cupboard is a little bare. Still, players like Hughes, Khawaja and Cowan have spent time at international level with varying degrees of success. Pressure for them would be much less intense stepping back into the fold. Either way, a good bowling attack is at least halfway to becoming a good cricket team.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 4, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    @Disco_bob: I agree! I also think that way sometimes! If i had not been watching, we may not have done as well etc.

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    @AidenFX, people only question SA's pace depth because they're main 3 are so good and durable that people try to pick something to criticise them about. The debuts of De Lange and Abott show how much depth they have. Can't talk about their spin depth as don't know their back ups but yes R Peterson and Tahir are both bog average. Philander hasn't really bowled abroad that much - no fault of his own. He had a dreadful series here which was surprising but had a good series vs England and had a good series vs Pakistan if I'm not mistaken. His stats speak for themselves - he's a freak and any attack would have him as their number one or two.

  • Clyde on January 4, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    They are bowling with much more precision. It is exhausting to watch a fast bowler expending so much energy landing it in the wrong place. Great to see them making plans and not letting up, not chasing wickets but letting them come if they will.